“Ma’am, it’s not possible, your company is now located on Bonaire and you can no longer use it” the extremely helpful gentleman with a slightly lilting voice from the helpdesk told me. I ended up there because there was a ‘thing’ with my website. He was suddenly unreachable and the SSL certificate turned out to be the culprit.
When I hear the words ‘can’t’ something happens inside me. Then the look in my eyes changes, my muscles get tense and a little voice begins to call inside me. “Can not? Why not? That should just be possible, right? How hard can it be?” It is an instant reaction with always the same outcome: I bite into solving ‘the problem.’ “Can not? We’ll see!”
I’ve been doing that for years. As soon as I hear the words ‘can’t’, I go right ON. Subconscious. For the past few months I was constantly on. That’s because I now live on Bonaire. If you live there and want to arrange a lot, quickly, ‘can’t’ is often the answer. The desired answer ‘can do’ is also not always worth celebrating, because with ‘can’ there are 3 variations possible. Not every service and not every product is available on a small island. If you’re lucky, it’s possible and also now. Variation 2 is: it is possible, but it is not there (so it is not possible now and when it is, is also difficult to say). The 3rd is ‘it is possible but not here’. That is equivalent to making happy with a dead sparrow because ‘not here’ means, in Curaçao, Aruba, in Colombia or in the Netherlands it is possible.
The good thing about frustration and impossibilities is that they hold up a mirror to me. Ever since I’ve lived here, I see a solution machine when I look in the mirror. I bite into every problem I come across, as I already did in every question that is asked of me from a professional field. Do I see a theme, topic or opportunity that I haven’t dealt with before with the hand puppet ? Then I bite into that too. It simply cannot be the case that there is not yet a solution or interpretation for this.
My ‘knowledge & skills archive’ is growing every year. I don’t enjoy that, by the way because I mainly see the to-do list that is never empty. There are always more topics, more questions and more solutions that can be offered. And that doesn’t change anything: I was busy, I’m busy and I’ll stay busy inventing and creating even more of the same, but from a slightly different angle.
The ‘thingy’ with the SSL certificate turned out to be, on closer inspection, a gift because it gave me sleepless nights. In the last sleepless night I decided to go out for a walk in the dark. In complete silence, with only the sound of my steps on the asphalt. Krrrr – phhhhh, krrrr-phhhhh, krrrrr-phhhhhh, krrrrrrr-phhhhh. About a mile from my home, I suddenly understood where that ‘can’t – pattern’ comes from.
It came from that awful little voice that has made me believe ever since I was a kid that dimes don’t turn into quarters, that studying isn’t for our kind of people, and that I shouldn’t be thinking about anything because I’m not good enough anyway. That little voice once created a ‘we’ll see’ attitude. I went to college, I became a quarter, had big dreams in my head and turned out to be good enough to realize what I wanted to realize.
While walking I realized that in my response to ‘can’t’ still live a recalcitrant adolescent. I may word it differently now, but in essence I still raise a big finger at anyone who accepts something that is far from fait accompli for me. Why can’t it? I haven’t tried it yet.
That attitude certainly helped me get to where I am today. But do I still need it now? I wondered because, frankly, it’s exhausting to be me. I’m never out.
Bonaire’s gonna put a little more on that by simply being Bonaire. Because besides coming up with all kinds of work-related solutions, I am now also coming up with all kinds of practical solutions, for that which is not possible, for that which is not there, for that which is not there now and for that which is not here.
I have arrived at pole 2901, usually I walk there and then turn around. Back and forth to pole 2901 is about 4 mile. Just enough to get to my 7000 daily steps. Maybe it was because I was walking in silence, with no podcast or audiobook, only to the sound of my shoes and my breathing, that I heard her.
“So from the rain in the drop. Not as idyllic as you thought”
It certainly wasn’t as idyllic as I thought, but from the rain in the drip?
“Well, it just depends on how you look at it.” I heard myself say. “Maybe now I’m learning exactly what I need to learn. Maybe you’re wrong and I’ll be better off if I don’t listen to you anymore.”
The reaction was fierce and came immediately.
“You just said that it has become more, that it is exhausting to be you and then I’m wrong?”
“Yeah, you do act like you want the best for me, like to make me believe you know who I am, but I’m getting more and more the feeling that you got stuck somewhere in time. That you are no longer from now.”
The awful voice was quiet now, but she didn’t agree. I felt her turn resolutely away from me with a disapproving look.
“You can be mad at me now and try to convince me otherwise, but may I explain it to you?” I asked.
Awful voice was silent and I explained that as a yes. Who is silent, consents my grandmother always said and my grandmother, that was a wise woman.
“I don’t believe it is a coincidence that I ended up on this island, something in me really wanted to be here and dreamed of peace and space. I was sure I could find it here and it turns out that it is, but…..”
“It’s not what you’re looking for, is it?” asked awful voice
“yes, it is” I replied “but this different environment requires a different mindset, a different distribution of time and energy. I can’t do what I was used to in the Netherlands, I’m tired after a few hours. I’m trying to maintain something that doesn’t make me happy at all, that I don’t even want to go back to. The longer I’m here, the more I discover why I’m here, what I can learn here. I actually like the pace here, I like the lack of stress of choice, I am thrown back more on myself and arrive at what really matters to me: making contact with myself and the other, going out into the world in a playful way and amaze me.”
I noticed that awful little voice had really listened. Her tone had changed and her question sounded friendly
“but is it enough? Can you live on that?”
It was a good question and one I’d asked myself countless times. I knew that most of all she wanted to protect me, that she was so critical because she wanted me to be okay, that she kept pushing me to do even more, to get even more out of myself because she believed that there was more inside me Actually, she wasn’t that bad.
“I don’t know” I said, “but if it doesn’t work with what is already there, then it is not realistic to think that it will come if I make even more? In the Netherlands I believed in more and here on Bonaire I notice that less gives me much more overview and clarity. I notice that slowing down yields better choices than speeding up. That the quality of contact increases when I can be more in the moment itself. And wasn’t that exactly my goal?”
I stood still as I asked myself that last question. Awful voice stood next to me and looked at me.
“I’m confident and I think you’re right. It is enough, you are enough and have enough. Believe in that and keep believing in that. I stand next to you, walk with you and will continue to remind you of this conversation. On one condition…”
“and that is?” I asked.
“For you to stop calling me awful little voice. I only did what you did to yourself. If you treat yourself differently, I will automatically go along with it. If you are kind to yourself, then I am too.”
That sounded quite plausible.
“Deal!” I said.
When I walked back into the garden gate that morning after the last sleepless night, I had made it through the 7,000 steps and a friend joined me. I knew what I had to do and would tackle that ‘thing’ with the SSL certificate. The ‘can’t’s’ in this world will always be there, I have little influence on that. How I deal with it, is entirely up to me.
Two hours later my website came back to life and I deleted a few pages immediately. Less is the new more.